1/  Gokyuzu - Kasbah Rockers                                                 5.05
  2/  Harissa (Bass Mix) - Kasbah Rockers                                      4.18
  3/  Dima Habibi Saber - Amira Saqati & Kasbah Rockers                        3.26
  4/  Marhaba - Kasbah Rockers                                                 3.21
  5/  Balayo (Jopas Mix) - Samatar & Kasbah Rockers                            5.50
  6/  Ium No Zourna - Dar Beida 04 & Kasbah Rockers                            6.24
  7/  Five Times A Day (Bombax Mix) - Dar Beida 04 & Kasbah Rockers            6.29
  8/  Nour - Amira Saqati & Dar Beida 04                                       5.26
  9/  Litim (4500 New Minarets Mix) - Maghrebika & Kasbah Rockers              5.18
  10/ Al Baqara (Bombax Mix) - Maghrebika & Dar Beida 04                       6.22
  11/ Al Houda (Slimane Mix) - Maghrebika & Kasbah Rockers                     3.52
  12/ Vert Metallisé - Kasbah Rockers                                          3.44
  13/ Skinjebir - Kasbah Rockers                                               4.20
  14/ Habibati (Bio Mix) - Amira Saqati & Kasbah Rockers                       4.30

          Recorded at Studio Mejjad, Marrakech, Secret Laboratory, Switzerland 
          Bill Laswell recorded at Orange Music, West Orange, New Jersey
          Produced and arranged by Pat Jabbar
Bill Laswell: bass (1,2,4,9,11,12,13); Oezlem Ylmaz: ??? (1); Achraf: ???? (4); Pat Jabbar: kayboards, programming; Samatar: vocals (5).

          2014 - Barraka el Farnaishi (Switzerland) (digital only)


Rating: 4/5

Getting closer to 60, avant garde producer and bassist Bill Laswell seemingly shows no signs of slowing down on the latest collaboration, Arabitronics Lounge, Volume 2, with Kasbah Rockers. Having been the frontman of experimental rock outfit Material, and having worked with the legendary Iggy Pop, he also turns his hand to mixing funk, jazz, and world music to a warm blend, which stands out on Kasbah Rockers’ latest project. You can tell the album is well thought out; typical jazz isn’t the formula here. The Bombax mix of Dar Beida’s ‘Five Times A Day’ spouts chopped up Arabian horn trumps that are intercepted by bleak, squelchy, and darting beats. This is one upped by funk pulser ‘Ium No Zourno’ which thrusts you into a futuristic disco of blunt beeps and muted synths. It’s a trip hop delight that has enough space to breathe yet also provides a throbbing, wavey hook.

The highlight by far is the Jopas mix of Kasbah Rockers’ ‘Balayo’, led by a calming vocal and bongo thuds before splicing up the voice and sending it into eclectic electro paradise. It is the front runner for the most lively track on the record; it’s exuberant in it’s highest peak in a way many songs on the album can’t always maintain for too long, but they make up for it in other ways of course. The Bass Mix of Kasbah Rockers’ ‘Harissa’ provides a frenetic march of jittering drums and dramatic drawn out horns along with the occasional pluck of a guitar. It’s a brilliant mess of instruments that you couldn’t otherwise picture together sounding this way in a song but it’s pulled off. Meanwhile, Amira Saqati lends a sultry and seductive vocal to kick off ‘Dima Habibi Saber’, tainted by a thudding synth and gifted with it’s unique Arabian electro. It is a spiralling collaboration that bends the ears of the listener putting elements of sporadic bass and trippy funk into the album while building upon hip hop from artists like De La Soul and Massive Attack into a more eclectic, globalised spectrum that draws from world music. It’s not as cohesively focused as perhaps a more generic example of world music, Sri Lankan rapper M.I.A’s work, but what’s not to like here? There’s an interesting multitude of genres such as hip hop, funk, and jazz which fuse together nicely, creating an enchanting world boogie that dares the listener to dig deeper.

What you get from this set of songs is an interesting and seamless stream of spacious trip hop electronics mixed with unusual instrumental combinations to make a strange yet captivating effect on the listener. It’s the best world music album I’ve heard since ‘Diablos Del Ritmo’, which consists of soulful Caribbean funk from between the 1960’s and 1980’s. You can’t fault the record, the spaced out soundscape allows a lot of room for experimental aspects which Arabitronics… is drowned in. Overall Arabitronics Lounge, Volume 2 is exotic in a way that drags up retro influence while reaching for the future.

Oliver Evans (courtesy of the Gigslutz website)